Hurry sickness was coined 40 years ago by a prominent cardiologist who noticed that all of his heart disease patients shared a common behavioral characteristic: they were all in a chronic rush.
By definition, hurry sickness is “a behavior pattern characterized by continual rushing and anxiousness; an overwhelming and continual sense of urgency. A malaise in which a person feels chronically short of time, and so tends to perform every task faster and gets flustered when encountering any kind of delay.” (Source: Psychology Today). Recognize yourself?
According to John Comer, the author of The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, hurry sickness is characterized by the following symptoms:
- Irritability: You are that person that people feel they need to walk on egg shells, not knowing what will trigger you. You are easily annoyed or angry.
- Hypersensitivity: You take things personally, take offense easily. Your emotional responses do not align with the reality of the situation.
- Restlessness: When you do intentionally slow down your mind keeps racing with all the stuff you feel you need to do and you can’t relax.
- Workaholism (or just nonstop activity): you don’t or can’t stop doing to the point that when the sun sets you don’t have anything left for your loved ones.
- Emotional numbness: because you are busy being busy, empathy gets left in the dust…you simply don’t have time for it.
- Out-of-order priorities: you don’t align your time with what you value most in life.
- Lack of care for your body: Basically, busy being busy results in not enough time to take care of your body, who has time to exercise in the midst of hurry?
- Escapist behaviors: When we stop being renewable…being able to expend energy without depleting the source, we turn to unhealthy behaviors for escape: social media addiction, Netflix binging, over-eating, over-drinking…name your escape route.
- Slippage of spiritual disciplines: When you are hijacked by the hurry, you tend to let those things that truly strengthen you from the inside out, your faith in Christ, slide to the back seat of your time and attention.
- Isolation: You isolate yourself within the vault of your overactive mind. You slowly slip away from your ability to be in the moment and connect with the life in front of your face: a child laughing, the beauty of a sunset, the celebration of another person’s victory over an illness, the blooming of a tree that has been dormant all winter.
Notice Jesus’ response to Martha as she declared her frustration to Jesus over the fact that her sister wasn’t rushing around preparing the dinner with her: “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:40-42.
Don’t wait until your body starts giving you obvious clues that you need to slow down if you want to live longer. When I was diagnosed with advanced cancer at 38 years old with 3 young children, one week prior to my final divorce court date it was a wakeup call to slow down.
Below are 5 simple ways you can halt your hurry sickness before it halts you:
Breathe and slow down: 90% of your biological energy is oxygen fueled. 70% of your toxins leave your body every time you exhale. See how many deep, intentional breaths you can take each hour. My grandfather lived to 98. Every morning he woke up, he stood up and took 20 deep breaths before starting his day. Take mini-retreats between transitions in your day to bring your attention to your surroundings – what you can see, feel, hear, touch and taste. Wake up to the life in front of your face, look around you and above you. Notice the sky, trees, and people. God exists in the spaces between time. It is in the stillness that we are able to hear the still small directives from God in our daily life. “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10.
Prayer: As soon as you wake up in the morning, before grabbing any electronic device, pause, sit, kneel or simply lay quietly as you set your mind for the day so it doesn’t set you. Be still and know that God adores you. Sit in silence for 10 minutes (you will expand as you see the benefit of prayer). Talk to Jesus as you would a close friend and then be still and listen for His movement within you. Reflect on the prayer that Jesus taught us: “Our Father…” Notice how the first three phrases invite us to surrender. Next, we are ready to receive what God desires to give us: our daily bread, the ability to forgive and receive forgiveness, strength to resist temptation, deliverance from evil. God is in control.
Read and journal: The Holy Scriptures offer us every tool we need to slow down and enjoy the gift of life God has blessed us with. Journal what the Holy Spirit points out to you, the insights that He wants you to take along with you in your day. These two activities require reflection which can only occur by being the observer of your life rather than the reactor. Pause at the end of each day and reflect on what worked out for you, what good did you bring into the world? What are you grateful for? Where would you have wanted to add more patience? Presence? Love? “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
Do at least one random act of kindness each day: Hurry is very self-absorbed. Counter this tendency by intentionally making someone else’s day a little brighter. Intentionally seek out at least one give back project in your day. It could be as simple as calling up a friend or colleague and letting them know how much you appreciate them. We all have a deep seeded desire to know that we matter. Why not be the person who reminds other people of their value? “Love one another, as I have loved you.” John 13:34-35.
Align your time and attention with what you value most: What are your top 3 values? Health and wellness? Meaningful relationships? Contribution? Spirituality? Fun? Write down your top 3 values and then reflect on what percentage of your time and attention you spend honoring these values in your days. Pause and ask God what He wants you to value most in your life.
Create a T-chart and write down on the right side: More Of and on the left side: Less Of. Be the boss of your time and attention so that it does not become the boss of you. Remember your life is not about you, it’s about Jesus living in and through you and your choice of surrender to that power within you. “For it is God who works within us both to will and to act according to His good purposes.” Philippians 2:13.
Work on your hurry sickness by learning how God wired you to be. Take our Biblical DISC® Assessment.